The 2023-24 Federal Budget was announced Tuesday 9 May. It outlines federal government spending for the forthcoming year.
No to Violence welcomes the $8.5 million funding for initiatives aimed at early intervention to prevent domestic, family and sexual violence announced in the Federal Budget – and the Federal Government’s commitment to holding men who choose to use violence and abuse to account.
This funding forms part of an additional $589.3 million for women’s safety and follows its initial $1.7 billion investment over six years in the October Budget.
While this Budget builds on the $23.0 million commitment to domestic violence research made in the October Budget, we would welcome further funding for perpetrator-focused research – a key ask of No to Violence’s 2023-24 Pre-Budget Submission to the Commonwealth Government: Funding Perpetrator Accountability.
The truth is it is going to take many years of investment at both state and federal levels to have any confidence that men can access services Australia wide, and that the risk to women and communities from violent men is being addressed.
There is a long, long way to go
We will continue advocating for funding that will ensure a sustainable, evidence-based family violence sector that is driven by a strong and capable workforce.
The purpose of this article is to analyse what the 2023-24 Federal Budget means for our sector.
- $8.5 million over four years has been allocated to support perpetrator interventions, including:
- Development of a perpetrator risk assessment framework for frontline service providers
- Extending the Mensline Changing for Good Service.
- Development of a national perpetrator referral database.
- The Federal Budget clarifies that a total of $27.0 million over five years is to be distributed to the states and territories for ‘innovative approaches to addressing perpetrator behaviour’.
- This is a clarification on the October Budget announcement of $25.0 million to be allocated to states and territories for this purpose.
- $194.0 million over five years to support the Dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan.
Measures with the potential to directly benefit members
Funding boost for early intervention to prevent domestic, family and sexual violence:
- $8.5 million over four years from 2023-24 for initiatives aimed at early intervention to prevent domestic, family and sexual violence, including by:
- developing a perpetrator risk assessment framework for frontline service providers.
- extending the Mensline Changing for Good Service.
- developing a national perpetrator referral database of services to improve uptake of intervention services.
No to Violence welcomes the new investments in national risk assessment and national perpetrator intervention service database and looks forward to working with government to develop and implement both, bringing our expertise as the peak body specialising in effective evidence-informed engagement with men for more than 30 years.
This funding will go towards developing critical resources, including a national perpetrator risk assessment for all frontline services and a national database of perpetrator programs to connect more men with the support they need to change their behaviour.
Clarification of funding allocated to the National Partnership Agreement:
- The May Budget clarified that $320.9 million over five years will be distributed to and by the states to extend the National Partnership Agreement.
- State allocations from 2023-24 have not yet been determined, although a total of $84.9 million will be distributed in 2023-24. 2022-23 allocations are below:
- NSW: $40.1 million
- Vic: $31.5 million
- Qld: $39.8 million
- WA: $22.6 million
- SA: $9.6 million
- Tas: $2.8 million
- ACT: $3.2 million
- NT: $14.3 million
No to Violence welcomes the additional clarity on the National Partnership Agreement and funding for innovative perpetrator interventions. We remain hopeful our Federal Budget asks will be funded through the Agreement and under the First Action Plan.
Clarification of funding allocated to innovative approaches to addressing perpetrator behaviour:
- The 2023-24 Federal Budget clarifies that a total of $27.0 million over five years is to be distributed to the states and territories.
- In the 2022-23 Federal Budget, each state and territory received $500,000. Starting in 2023-24, each state and territory will receive $700,000 annually through 2026-2027.
- This funding is being provided to the states to develop innovative approaches to address family, domestic, and sexual violence perpetrator behaviour.
- These approaches, which may include technological solutions such as electronic monitoring, will help hold perpetrators to account, prevent them from reoffending, and improve protection for victim-survivors.’
New funding for initiatives in First Nations communities:
- $145.3 million over four years, including a provision of $128.6 million in the Contingency Reserve, to support activities which address immediate safety concerns for First Nations women and children who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, family, and domestic and sexual violence.
- $23.2 million over four years to support families impacted by violence and at risk of engaging in the child protection system, through delivery of seven place-based, trauma-aware and culturally responsive healing programs aimed at early intervention and recovery and supporting families.
- $17.6 million over two years to deliver on family safety initiatives under the Action Plan.
- $7.8 million over five years to support the development of a standalone First Nations National Plan for Family Safety, including governance, secretariat and data arrangements.
Better, Safer Future for Central Australia Plan:
- As part of a $250 million investment, the Government will provide funding of $155.9 million over five years to support the Better, Safer Future for Central Australia Plan. This funding includes:
- $23.5 million over four years to expand the Child & Youth Assessment & Treatment Service and support the development of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation’s ‘Health Hub’ in Alice Springs.
- $10.0 million over four years for justice reinvestment initiatives in Central Australia to reduce crime, contact with the criminal justice system and recidivism through the Confiscated Assets Account.
- $9.2 million over three years to address community safety and early intervention and crime prevention projects for First Nations people.
- $7.5 million over two years for coordination, governance activities and capacity building in community-controlled organisations.
- A further $94.1 million over five years, from 2022–23, will be held in the Contingency Reserve pending further work with Central Australian communities and First Nations organisations on the design and implementation of additional measures as part of the Better, Safer Future for Central Australia Plan.
- This builds on the initial $48.8 million package to improve community safety in Alice Springs and Central Australia announced by the Prime Minister on 24 January 2023. Funding included:
- $25.0 million in 2023–24 to extend funding for safety and community services in Alice Springs.
- $14.2 million in 2022–23 to improve community safety in Alice Springs and surrounds.
- $2.0 million for CCTV, lighting and safety measures in Alice Springs.
- $5.6 million in 2023–24 for additional emergency accommodation and safe places in Alice Springs.
- $2.0 million over two years from 2022–23 to boost domestic violence services through the Tangentyere Council.
Key measures in other part of the family violence sector
CHANGES TO LAW RELATING TO FAMILY VIOLENCE
Funding to strengthen sexual assault and consent laws:
- $6.5 million over four years from 2023-24 (and $0.9 million per year ongoing) to strengthen and harmonise sexual assault and consent laws, and to establish an Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into justice responses to sexual violence.
- $12.1 million over four years from 2023-24 to develop and distribute social media resources for young people on consent, with advice from expert advisory group, and to support community-led sexual violence prevention pilots.
- No additional funding to support proposed reform to the Family Law Act review was announced in this Budget (other than the $46.5 million to continue and expand two family law property programs to support access to equitable property settlement outcomes).
Support for migrant victim-survivors:
- $10 million over four years from 2023-24 to expand the family violence provisions within the Migration Regulations 1994 and support visa holders experiencing domestic and family violence, including secondary applicants for permanent visa subclasses, offshore temporary Partner visa applicants and Prospective Marriage visa holders.
- $38.2 million to extend the current Escaping Violence Payment and Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot to January 2025. The cost of this proposal would be met from within the existing resourcing of the Department of Social Services.
- $18.4 million over four years from 2023–24 (and $5.0 million per year ongoing) to improve safety in international child abduction cases for women and children fleeing violence. This funding supports efforts under the Hague Convention, and includes:
- $7.4 million to introduce a financial assistance scheme to provide eligible respondent parents with equivalent access to legal representation.
- $5.3 million for early alternative dispute resolution measures to divert families from contested Hague Convention proceedings and improve safety outcomes.
- $5.7 million to improve capability in the Attorney-General’s Department to obtain and make evidence about family violence available to the courts in Hague Convention cases.
- To support priorities under the 2023 Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, the Government will also provide $68.6 million over two years from 2023–24 to support Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Providers.
- These service providers will deliver legal and non-legal support for First Nations victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence, and will undertake an initial review to inform the development of a national standard for government data on lost, missing, or murdered First Nations women and children.
- The National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality (in development) is slated for release in the second half of 2023. No new funding has been announced.
- National Housing and Homelessness Plan (under development). No new funding announced.
- $3.3 million over three years to review emergency accommodation services’ suitability for children and to conduct an independent evaluation of 1800RESPECT.
COMMUNITY SERVICES SECTOR, GENERAL
- $220.0 million over four years to be allocated to the states to provide ‘new funding for frontline and community sector workers to provide support to women and children experiencing family, domestic, and sexual violence. This initiative will generate 500 new jobs for community organisations nationally’.
- The October Budget allocated $169.4 million over years from 2022-23 and $55.4 million per year on going.
- $100.0 million over five years from 2024-25 to establish a social impact investment Outcomes Fund to make contractual payments to states, territories and service providers based on delivering agreed, measurable outcomes through specific projects, with funding to be provisioned in the Contingency Reserve, pending the outcome of a co-design process with stakeholders, including states and territories.
Funding for eSafety initiatives:
- $134.1 million over four years for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to meet statutory requirements and for enhanced educational, outreach and investigatory activities, including but not limited to content on technology facilitated abuse.
The 2023-24 Federal Budget demonstrates progress in shifting the burden of family and domestic violence from victim-survivors to the men who use violence.
Significant national leadership and federal government investment in prevention, early interventions and men’s behaviour change must happen if we are serious about reducing – and ending – the scourge of family and domestic violence in this country.
If we do not address the root causes that enable men to use family violence, they will continue to be violent and abusive.
Our sector is doing truly fantastic work by starting men on their journey to change.
But the way services are commissioned leaves little room for evaluation, innovation, research, and a fit-for-purpose service system capable of supporting every man who needs it.
No to Violence will continue advocating on behalf of its members – the organisations and individuals who perform this important work – to ensure the expansion and continued operation of the family violence sector.
Jacqui Watt is the Chief Executive Officer of No to Violence, Australia’s largest peak body for organisations that work with men who use family violence, and the operator of the Men’s Referral Service.
This analysis was developed using insights from the No to Violence Policy and Research team.